Schwarzenbach, Annemarie

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Schwarzenbach, Annemarie Gender: F
Annemarie Mina Renée Schwarzenbach
born on 23 May 1908 at 17:40 (= 5:40 PM )
Place Zürich, Switzerland, 47n23, 8e32
Timezone MET h1e (is standard time)
Data source
BC/BR in hand
Rodden Rating AA
Collector: Treindl
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_gemcol.18.gif 02°07' s_mo.18.gif s_piscol.18.gif 11°06 Asc.s_scocol.18.gif 06°25'

Portrait of Annemarie Schwarzenbach 
(click to view image source)
Annemarie Schwarzenbach
(to view image author and license, click here)


Swiss writer, journalist, photographer and traveler. Her father, Alfred, was a wealthy businessman in the silk industry; her mother, Renée, the daughter of Swiss general Ulrich Wille and descended from German aristocracy, was a prominent hostess, horsewoman and photographer. From an early age she began to dress and act like a boy, a behaviour not discouraged by her parents, and which she retained all her life—in fact in later life she was often mistaken for a young man.

In 1930 she made contact with Erika Mann (daughter of Thomas Mann). She was fascinated by Erika's charm and self-confidence. A relationship developed, which much to Annemarie's disappointment did not last long, although they always remained friends. Annemarie found a soul-mate in Klaus, brother of Erika, and settled in with the Manns as an adoptive family. With Klaus she started experimenting with the use of drugs. She led a fast life in the bustling artistic city that was Berlin towards the close of the Weimar Republic. Her androgynous beauty fascinated and attracted both men and women.

Annemarie's life-style ended with the Nazi take-over in 1933, and Bohemian Berlin disappeared. Tensions with her family increased, as some family members sympathised with the Swiss Fronts, which favoured closer ties with Nazi Germany. Her parents urged Annemarie to renounce her friendship with the Manns and help with the reconstruction of Germany under Hitler. This she could not do — her circle included Jews and political refugees from Germany. Instead later on she helped the Manns finance an anti-Fascist literary review, Die Sammlung. The pressure she felt under led her to attempting suicide, which caused a scandal among her family and their conservative circle in Switzerland.

She took several trips abroad with Klaus Mann, to Italy, France and Scandinavia, in 1932 and 1933. Later that year Annemarie travelled to Persia. After her return to Switzerland, she accompanied Klaus Mann to a Writers Union Congress in Moscow. On her next trip abroad she wrote to him suggesting their marrying, although he was a homosexual — nothing came of this proposal.

In 1935 she returned to Persia where, despite her lesbian outlook, she married the French diplomat Claude Achille Clarac, born 31 August 1903 in Nantes, also a homosexual. They had known each other for only a few weeks, and it was a marriage of convenience for both of them. Unfortunately they moved to an isolated area outside Teheran where their lonely existence had an adverse effect on Annemarie. She turned to morphine, which she had been using for years for various ailments, but to which she now became addicted. She returned to Switzerland for a holiday, taking in Russia and the Balkans by car. However, once home, she could not face returning to the isolation she had experienced in Persia. She rented a house in Sils in Oberengadin, which became a refuge for herself and her friends. She wrote Tod in Persien (Death in Persia), which was not published until 1998, although a reworked version appeared as Das Glückliche Tal (The Happy Valley) in 1940. Here she also wrote what was to become her most successful book, Lorenz Saladin: Ein Leben für die Berge.

In 1937 and 1938 her photographs documented the rise of Fascism in Europe — she was a committed anti-Fascist. She visited Austria and Czechoslovakia. She took her first trip to the USA, where she accompanied her American friend, photographer Barbara Hamilton-Wright, by car along the eastern coast, as far as Maine. They then travelled into the Deep South and to the coal basins of the industrial regions around Pittsburgh. Her photographs documented the lives of the poor and down-trodden in these regions.

In June 1939, in an effort to combat her drug addiction and escape from the hovering clouds of violence in Europe, she embarked on an overland trip to Afghanistan with the ethnologist Ella Maillart. They set off from Geneva in a small Ford car and travelled via Istanbul, Trabzon and Teheran and in Afghanistan took the Northern route from Herat to Kabul. They were in Kabul when World War 2 broke out. In Afghanistan Annemarie became ill with bronchitis and other ailments, but she still insisted on travelling on to Turkmenistan. In Kabul they split up, Maillart despairing of ever weaning her friend away from her drug addiction. They met once more in 1940 as Annemarie was boarding the ship to return her to Europe. The trip is described by Maillart in her book The Cruel Way, which was dedicated to "Christina" (the name Maillart used for Annemarie in the book, at the request of her mother, Renée). It was made into a movie, The Journey to Kafiristan, in 2001.

She is reported to have had affairs with the daughter of the Turkish Ambassador in Teheran and a female archaeologist in Turkmenistan.

After the Afghanistan trip she travelled to the USA, where she met again her friends the Manns. With them she worked with a committee for helping refugees from Europe. However, Erika soon decided to travel to London, which disappointed Annemarie and she soon became disillusioned with her life in the USA. Annemarie was also at this time involved in a difficult relationship with the wife of a wealthy man, Baronessa Margot von Opel, and was still struggling with her feelings for Erika Mann. This contributed to another bout of depression which saw her hospitalised and released only under the condition that she leave the USA.

In March 1941 Annemarie arrived back in Switzerland, but she was soon on the move again. She travelled as an accredited journalist to the Free French in the Belgian Congo where she spent some time but was prevented from taking up her position. In June 1942 in Tétouan she met up again with her husband Claude Clarac before returning to Switzerland. While back home she started making new plans – she had been offered a position as a correspondent for a Swiss newspaper in Lisbon. In August her friend the actress Therese Giehse stayed with her at Sils.

On 6 September 1942 in the Engadin she fell from her bicycle and sustained a serious head injury, and, following a mistaken diagnosis in the clinic where she was treated, she died on 15 November. After Annemarie's death, her mother destroyed all her letters and diaries. A friend took care of her writings and photographs, which were later archived in the Swiss Literary Archives in Bern.

(source: Wikipedia)

see also this private biography website

Link to Wikipedia biography


  • business associate/partner relationship with Querido, Emanuel (born 6 August 1871). Notes: Schwarzenbach financed Die Sammlung
  • friend relationship with Mann, Klaus (born 18 November 1906)
  • lover relationship with Mann, Erika (born 9 November 1905). Notes: short love relationship in 1930, remained good friends


  • Relationship : Marriage 21 May 1935 in Teheran (with French diplomat Claude Achille Clarac)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Death of Father November 1940 (she made a suicide attempt the same month)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Health : Accident (Non-fatal) 6 September 1942 in Sils Maria (bicycle accident, head injuries)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Death by Accident 15 November 1942 (long-term consequences of bicycle accident)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.

Source Notes


The historian Alexis Schwarzenbach (born 1971), published several books about his great-ant Annemarie and her mother Renée Schwarzenbach-Wille, his grand-grandmother. In Auf der Schwelle des Fremden (2008, p.9) he describes the circumstances of Annemarie's birth in the Schwarzenbach family villa at Parkring in Zürich-Enge. She was born 'twenty minutes before six' (in the afternoon). In an email to atr on 8 June 2012 he quotes her mother's diary as his source.


  • Vocation : Art : Photography
  • Vocation : Writers : Other Writers (travel)